The final stop on my Romanian tour, was to the Transylvanian town of Brasov. Brasov is considered to be the heart of Romania. It is one of the most important economic and cultural cities in the country. Settled along one of the oldest trade routes between Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania, this beautiful city is full of history, mystery, and traditions.
The drive to Brasov crosses the Carpathian Mountains through the Timis and Prahova valleys. The city is placed in the inner Carpathian curve, at the foot of Tampa Mountain.
Our Air B & B in Brasov couldn’t have been more perfect. A five minute walk from the market, five minute walk from Tampa Mountain, and a ten minute walk to the center of town. Not to mention the interior was aesthetically pleasing and cozy.
We arrived in Brasov around 1400, and unlike our arrival in Bucharest, I wanted to explore the area right away. My roommate stayed back and enjoyed the apartment to herself for a bit, and I headed towards Tampa Mountain. I wanted to get an idea of where the trail was that led to the Brasov Sign, a popular hiking destination (think Hollywood- but Brasov.)
I found the trail, as well as another furry friend. Brasov was no exception to the “cats are everywhere” rule, and I was living for it.
As you can see in the above photo, Brasov is a walled in city. The path along the base of Tampa Mountain provides a sizeable view of the medieval protective barrier. I have been to a handful of walled in cities, but Brasov is one of the most in tact I have seen (along with Rothenburg.)
Upon first glance from a slight elevation, Brasov’s walled in buildings looked overwhelming, but upon exploration I quickly learned it was an easy city to navigate.
After my premature exploration, I settled into our Air B & B for the evening to prepare for the following day. We had two days in Brasov, and we originally planned to do a free walking tour with the same company we tagged along with in Bucharest, however we caught the company on their last day for the unforeseeable future while in Bucharest.
Thankfully we found Diana, (a local woman) through another website who was giving free walking tours, and she did a great job.
Before we met up with the tour we stopped by a local coffee shop for a hit of caffeine, which was conveniently located next to a local bakery, where we stopped for a hit of sugar. The americano at Velo Coffee was good, but the barista who made it was great. A beautiful Romanian man as kind as butter is smooth.
The decorations inside of Velo were just my style, and if I were a local I could easily sit inside for hours working on blog posts.
Our tour began in The Council Square, a beautiful location where I later enjoyed an authentic Romanian dinner. We arrived early with time to kill, and noticed there was a smaller, but just as beautiful branch of Cărturești Carusel across from the square.
We went in for a glance, and I was transported back to the fairytale land of adventure and mystery.
Unsure of how the turnout for our tour would be, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a total of eleven people accompanying Diana for two hours walking around the interior and exterior walls of Brasov. Diana talked about things we had already learned, like communism, the three regions of Romania, and Romania’s most popular dishes.
Overall, it was nice to have someone guide us in and out of the streets with specific history that related to Brasov, and Diana was one of the kindest people I have ever met. She invited us to ask her questions both before and after the tour (in her own spare time) with regard to Brasov. We were lucky to find her for this tour and as with everything else we experienced, her tours ended shortly after our visit due to the Coronavirus.
One of my favorite places on our tour was a street I later visited for a second time on my own to fully soak in the experience, called Strada Sforii (or Rope Street.) This is the most narrow street in Brasov, and was originally used as a corridor for firemen to use. Now the street is simply a tourist attraction filled with multicolored walls, and “so and so was here” like graffiti.
Other honorable mentions during this walking tour of the city were all the walls of graffiti, which added a type of charm. Brasov was worlds different from Bucharest with regard to the residual “run down” vibe of the communist times. Brasov has a medieval feel, with less sketchy buildings that look as if they could collapse with the force of a sneeze.
And of course, no tour would be complete without the sighting of more Romanian felines.
Our tour ended in time for me to grab a bite to eat before heading up Tampa Mountain for a closer look at the Brasov sign. More on that and on our final morning in Brasov before heading back to Bucharest in my next post. 🙂
Q: Do you find graffiti charming, or destructive?